The Thrills & Fears of Going Into Senior Year

My friend, Isabella, in a balloon-filled classroom. Credit: Allie Primak

My friend, Isabella, in a balloon-filled classroom. Credit: Allie Primak

By Allie Primak

Maybe since 5th grade I’ve always thought: I can’t wait to be a senior.

And now it’s finally happening. It feels so surreal because the twelfth grade girls in red have always been glorified at my school. They are like celebrities whose lives you look at but don’t think of as something that could happen to you. It never occurred to me that I could actually be one of them, that I could actually attain the exciting lifestyle that I’ve seen down the hallways in crimson and ruby and vermillion flashes.

I always had a subtle feeling as though Greenwich Academy life is oriented around seniorhood. This feeling is not so explicit, but rather it’s like a very soft and dull (but nonetheless persistent, or at least reoccurring) ringing in one’s ear.

The seniors are the first people you see on your first day of school, cheering as you step out of your vehicle at drop-off and cheering still as you walk through their man-made bridge at the opening assembly held in the gym.

And the seniors are who you still see throughout the rest of the same day, but this time in little reminders. As you walk into GA’s glimmering glass edifice you see the bright signs hanging from the senior room (enticing but not to be approached). As you stare at the people who will be in your classes this year, you see strips of red paint left on their faces from their senior friends (these are markings that should be respected). As you stand outside waiting to be picked up, carrying the lightest-weighing backpack you will have all year, you see their glimmering cars all lined up next to the curb (and all parked legally, according to school rules). You see all these things and you stand there, looking at the signs and the stripes and the sedans, and you wish to yourself: Please… let me be a senior.

Although every year at GA is and has been exciting in it’s own way, senior year is the most publicized, the one you await with the most anticipation. It’s when it’s all finally about YOU. You are the ones scream-smiling as younger girls in jumpers and kilts walk past you that first week of September. You are the only ones in red. You are the big girls who are intimidating in the way that you seem like you have everything figured out. You are the girls who sit effortlessly and nonchalantly next to the senior boys in class and it’s not the biggest deal in the world anymore (actually, this one is negotiable). You are the ones who are growing up, who have applications and SAT scores and resumes and common apps and all that college fuss to focus on. You are the ones that will be sought after for advice, you are the ones who are running the clubs, you are the ones at the front of assemblies, you are the ones who’ve made it and can look all the way back.

The quintessential first day of school selfie, with silly expressions and the seniors' red paint on our faces. Credit: Allie Primak

The quintessential first day of school selfie, with silly expressions and the seniors’ red paint on our faces. Credit: Allie Primak

But maybe since a couple of months ago I’ve started thinking: I can’t possibly be going into senior year. I’m not ready.

It feels weirder than anything to think that I have almost no more GA left. There’s nothing at school to look forward to after this because this is what I’ve been looking forward to the whole primary and secondary time; this is the final stop.

Okay, maybe not the final stop. But the final stop at high school, and the final stop before the “real world.” I’m nostalgic and nonplussed. It makes me wonder if I’m saying goodbye to security, to always knowing I’ll have an advisory waiting for me in the morning so I can sit on the desks and laugh at groggy humor, to the constant comfort of a beautiful campus, to the lethargic happiness I feel re: not-ever-having-to-choose-what-to-wear-tomorrow, to the solace I always find in teachers and friends who I can come to and bother with my high school trivialities.

Although in college I may keep some of these things, they won’t be formatted the same way. The teachers and friends will have different names and faces, and instead of bothering them with high school trivialities I’ll have to come to them with even more complex college trivialities.

And another scary thing is all of that college focus that’s been stored in reserves for the past eighteen years of my life, building up like the potential energy we learned about in chemistry, waiting to be released. All of the files my mom keeps in her office drawer (from birth certificates to plastic medals awarded for “excellent participation” at soccer camps), all of the accumulated academic mumbo-jumbo (the GPAs, the SATs, the alphabet soup), all of my carefully noted accomplishments typed up on a resume (and written in words that I will never be able to discern as overly-obnoxious or perhaps in some way humble?)… all of that about to be laid out on the table to be looked at and evaluated. Wow.

It’s weird looking ahead to college and adulthood and thinking that there’s so much more left to my life and so much more left to do. I have this whole other world that I’m on my way to now, although GA has always felt like the only tiny world I’ll ever be living in. I don’t feel entirely ready to feel like an alien. I don’t want to leave my little red planet just yet.

So maybe all of this stuff I am talking about is the reason why the seniors are always in red at Greenwich Academy. Red like a stop sign at the end of the road. Pause. Let the people cross. But after the stop, there is always the go. We can move on and go forward and get to where we need to be going. Leave our comfort but look forward to unfamiliar and interesting things. This is our final stop– our final time to stop– before we really go on and grow up.

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